Would football be boring or utopian if we didn't have negative/defensive managers?

Fortitude

TV/Monitor Expert
Scout
Joined
Jul 10, 2004
Messages
10,960
Location
Inside right
Apart from Simeone, it seems as though defensive managers get an awful lot of stick these days, far more than at any other time I can remember.

It doesn't seem like the art of defending or masterfully shutting up shop has any place in the modern-day footballing mindset. Is this true?

I'll say for my own club and its history of attacking that it's been easy throughout the years to appreciate that kind of football from a distance and a certain level of detachment beings as it had very little to do with us. I'll always enjoy that kind of football at tournaments, too, more from the perspective of seeing which teams will be good enough to breach the seemingly unbreachable as it's a measure of both the attackers and defenders on show. I think Chelsea vs. Barcelona in both their peaks might be the pinnacle of that this century so far, actually.

Anyway, where do you stand regarding this? Would football be more of a spectacle with an improvement in attacking over defending or would it then become an undiluted mess?
 

InfiniteBoredom

Full Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
10,015
Location
Melbourne
Defensive football can be fun to watch as a neutral, but if your team play it then it’s not.

When you are invested in the outcome of the match, it’s obvious you’d want the ball to stay as far away as often from your box as possible.

Generally, I’d say no. Football would still be fun, it’d just be a different experience.
 

BluesJr

Full Member
Joined
May 15, 2013
Messages
4,519
You’re definitely right, the ‘efficient’ method has never been more unpopular than it is now and those tactics are ridiculed on a daily basis.

I think the game has changed a little, the number of goals scored is rising and more and more people just want attacking free flowing football. Social media feeds into this as well, the perception from the media is that Spurs and Liverpool are much better teams than us despite us being comfortably ahead in the table.

I think football needs both, but if I’m honest I’d rather we didn’t lean on the defensive side when coming up against our rivals.
 

CA_vampire

New Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2017
Messages
977
Location
California
I know that most people will disagree with me on this, but a nicely executed defensive master-plan is very entertaining to watch! I will never forget the two CL games between Mourinho's Inter and the tiki-taka Barca! :wenger:
 

Mohamed Salah

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Mar 28, 2018
Messages
7
Supports
Merseyside Red FC
First post here after lurking for some time. People are generally hypocrite when it comes to this.

For example if a team like Palace play expansive football against any of the big 6, they will be walloped by 5 to 6 goals every match. The spanish giants are the biggest hypocrite around. Before the last match that we had in Nou Camp they start with LFC are negative etc etc. Our team under Rafa was nowhere as good as Barca.

So should we have Messi etc have a field day or should we be compact as Rafa did and kill them on the counter?

Saying which I am sorry to say that i lost interest of the football under Houllier. It was bad and I fell asleep a few times during matches. Seeing your matches now under JoMo reminds me of the dark last Houllier days.
 

_00_deathscar

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Messages
119
Supports
Liverpool
You mean in 2006-2007 yea?

Thought we played the perfect away game - kept it compact, kept Ronaldinho and Messi (albeit a very young Messi) quiet and hit them on the break.

The return leg we actually did a Man City on them. Absolutely walloped them in the first 45 but couldn't hit the net - think we hit the post a couple of times and Valdes made some superb saves; could have been 2-0 or 3-0 up very easily in that half. They won 1-0 but it wasn't enough for them.
 

P-Nut

fan of well-known French footballer Fabinho
Joined
Oct 16, 2015
Messages
15,863
Location
Oldham, Greater Manchester
I enjoy watching excellent defensive football. Some of the Italian sides over the years have been masters at it.

Stopping some of the great attacking talents in world football can be a joy to watch at times. But I tend to agree with the thought process that, if it's your team consistently playing that way you will become bored of it.

It has its place in big games, top teams coming up against other top sides. A defensive masterclass there can be great, but when a top team does it against a lesser side you begin to expect more.
 

Mockney

Not the only poster to be named Poster of the Year
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
38,960
Location
Editing my own posts.
Not to excuse some of the dross we’ve played this year, but yeah, I’m kind of the mind that the sort of counter attacking masterclass with which Ancelotti’s Real beat Pep’s Bayern only a couple years back, would potentially now be considered a grudgingly admirable but unsporting tactical cheat.

Ultimately I think the Pep/Klopp influence on the PL is a net gain... but it’s important to keep our boots on the ground.
 
Last edited:

Emrethis

Full Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2015
Messages
237
You get the old English first division.

There's a reason why the English league became the most popular league in the world. The English league didn't have the best players, coaches or tacticians. But people liked to see both teams going at it with their pride at stake. Most people didn't like to watch a tactical game because it was boring.

I grew up on English football and if you're an English football man (or woman), isn't it about end to end attacking football, strong (and highly questionable) tackles flying in left and right, and passionate (but mostly angry) footballers confronting referees? These things that get you off your seat and your blood pumping.

What's this about tactical and defensive football? Does anybody actually get off their seat and scream 'Oh my goodness! Look at that pristine defensive formation, the opposition can't break through!'

I respect that some people may like the defending. But come on, we watch English football.
 
Last edited:

abdo99

Full Member
Joined
May 26, 2016
Messages
11,848
Make no mistake the art of defending is starting to become lost slowly. We live in a day and age where defenders are judged on their ability on the ball rather than their defensive contribution and goalkeepers need to be able to pass the ball instead of actually being good goalkeepers. If I was a manager my team would be capable of both fluid attacking football and also being able to shut up shop when we need to. I don't understand why it has to be one or the other. Give teams more to think about. The Arsenal teams of old were exquisite at times going forward but they also had a steely attitude towards defending and knew what needed to be done to win. But you're right there hasn't been a time where defending is looked down upon like it is now which is sad.
 

el3mel

Full Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2016
Messages
29,098
Location
Egypt
The only reason Simeone is not getting stuck for the style is because he’s not at a big club
He has enough good players to allow him to play offensive football if he wants but he just doesn't want.

For the op, there are just different ways to play football and people need to accept that.
 

tenpoless

Full Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2014
Messages
3,336
Location
*Teleports behind you*
I enjoy the tactical side of football, not really about defensive or attacking but more about how to expose your opponent's weakness while covering your own. So with that in mind, yes football will be really boring if every manager instructs the players to always attack because the better side with better players will always win the game, bar a few mistakes or anomalies. With "defensive" approach however there's still a chance for the 'inferior' sides. Different approaches make football much more unpredictable, I love it.
 
Last edited:

norm87cro

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Messages
427
Location
Split, HR
Approaches and tactics change during football history. Football doesn't belong to anyone therefore it is a bit silly to label offensive football as better or worse for than more defensive approaches. Personally I find football beautiful because of its versatility
 

B20

HEY EVERYONE I IGNORE SOMEONE LOOK AT ME
Joined
Aug 23, 2003
Messages
23,883
Location
Disney Land
Supports
Liverpool
I was fine with Rafas brand of defensive football. It was matched to intelligent attacking football and more often than not he was actually quite positive in his approach.

Houllier's brand of defensive football, though I stomached it at the time, was in hindsight dull as dishwater and not acceptable, really.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2002
Messages
48,117
Location
Founder of IhateMakeleles.org and Gourcufffanboysa
The notion that football would be 'Utopia' with only attacking managers is laughable. Only people who love PC and play station easy mode in which you can wallop teams by 4 goals every match like such nonsense. True football utopia would see everyone able to successfully marry all three aspects if football successfully regardless of personnel. Namely defence, attack and tactics.
 

Smores

Full Member
Joined
May 18, 2011
Messages
19,315
I'm not really sure its a recent trend. In general fullbacks in this league have become more attacking, we don't do wingers anymore they're all wideforwards and instead of the old two man midfield with both box to box the middle has instead become congested with defensive/attacking roles.

I'm a fan of the old 442 as it brought both sides to the game and would love us to play it every now and again but i think tactically its had it's day and theplayers aren't there anymore. Pogba one of the most well rounded midfielders refuses to put in any shift or discipline comparable to Scholes or Keane and Martial thinks himself too good to track back like Giggs. Generation showboat
 

GhastlyHun

Full Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2015
Messages
9,016
Location
Bavaria
Supports
Bayern München
Football would be silly without managers and teams valuing a strong defense. Matches would approach handball scores and take the thrill away from the individual goals.
 

Keeps It tidy

Hates Messi
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Messages
17,639
Location
New York
Attacking and defending are not really entirely separate concepts. Like high pressing is often an attacking strategy and possession is often a defensive strategy.
 

golden_blunder

Site admin. Manchester United fan
Staff
Joined
Jun 1, 2000
Messages
93,953
Location
Dublin, Ireland
I was fine with Rafas brand of defensive football. It was matched to intelligent attacking football and more often than not he was actually quite positive in his approach.

Houllier's brand of defensive football, though I stomached it at the time, was in hindsight dull as dishwater and not acceptable, really.
I remember loads of people saying that if Rafa had taken the chains off a bit and allowed them to attack they may have won something more
 

golden_blunder

Site admin. Manchester United fan
Staff
Joined
Jun 1, 2000
Messages
93,953
Location
Dublin, Ireland
I'm not really sure its a recent trend. In general fullbacks in this league have become more attacking, we don't do wingers anymore they're all wideforwards and instead of the old two man midfield with both box to box the middle has instead become congested with defensive/attacking roles.

I'm a fan of the old 442 as it brought both sides to the game and would love us to play it every now and again but i think tactically its had it's day and theplayers aren't there anymore. Pogba one of the most well rounded midfielders refuses to put in any shift or discipline comparable to Scholes or Keane and Martial thinks himself too good to track back like Giggs. Generation showboat
You’re right that we’re not equipped for it
But it can still work in the PL. Leicester played it when they won the league. Simple, fast football with the team playing for each other
 

Zlatattack

Full Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2017
Messages
4,634
I don't mind parking the bus against Barcelona and hitting them on the counter. What kills me is when we do it against Stoke and Bristol City.
 

VeevaVee

despite the protests, wears Ugg boots
Scout
Joined
Jan 3, 2009
Messages
34,366
Location
Manchester
I'm of the opinion it's ok for teams in the lower half of the table. If you're in the top half or top 6 and want to play defensively, at least be able to counter and attack well too. If anything to me that's complete football. Good at defending and attacking, and not negative.
 

B20

HEY EVERYONE I IGNORE SOMEONE LOOK AT ME
Joined
Aug 23, 2003
Messages
23,883
Location
Disney Land
Supports
Liverpool
I remember loads of people saying that if Rafa had taken the chains off a bit and allowed them to attack they may have won something more
Probably. But that is a matter of the efficiency of the approach not how palatable it is.
 

Rifer

Full Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2017
Messages
4,328
Location
Losing to Comeback Winning!
Football would be boring without them.

Football utopian is a good balance of all attack, defense and tactics all at the highest levels.

Attacks <-> Defense
(It's not actually a separation, rather both interlink with one another eg. counter attack, attacking with strong organized defense at the back, defensive with good set-piece threat, etc.)

There are also the idea on timing, tactical changes and transitions in games.

All of these are fun:
  • Attacking vs Attacking ~ thrilling end to end game. (45%)
  • Attacking vs Defensive ~ unlocking solid defense and repelling attack waves are both fun. (45%)
  • Defensive vs Defensive ~ chess style of game. (10%)
Depending on fans and their general preferences thus the leagues and clubs specifics.
I don't mind football everywhere overall having 'em all, rather prefer to have a good balance of those, makes the game interesting.

---

That said, specifically for us Manchester United... only in some specific games I don't mind we're playing defensive emphasis football.

1. European games (Champions League and EL depends) against top teams only. No need to play with that approach against majority of the other teams.

2. Domestic games (EPL and cup games), similarly there is no longer any need to do so. Up until last season, don't mind few games defensive mode against some of the top team on top form, but from this season onward, we're strong enough to be more attacking or at least more balance, depending on form. Never defensive against small teams.

Against top team - balance approach (around 15% of the total games)
Against small teams - attacking approach (around 85% of the total games)

*Shutting up shop in the final minutes is a common acceptable tactic to defend and hold lead.​